Most people avoid online shopping due to mistrust (in the provider/store) or lack of working debit cards. While, we’ll deal with trust in another post; lets venture into the world of virtual prepaid cards and regular prepaid debit cards.
The concept of online shopping has increased by many folds in the recent years, and it is an integral part of the global economy. Many people, though, still cannot shop online due to restrictions placed on them based on their location. Namely, many people cannot order products from certain websites because Pakistan is not supported by that site’s shipping services, or perhaps their bank still does not support online payments.
We have already covered in detail how one can get a parcel forwarding address in order to get the items anywhere in the world but now its time to focus on a payment solution to go with your new address.
Virtual debit cards and Virtual Prepaid Cards are becoming a necessity in the online marketplace. The internet has many dangers including scam virtual debit card sites such as Cliffscard and Safepay.
Below is a list of the best virtual and prepaid debit card services out there.
How Virtual or Prepaid Debit Cards Work
Virtual debit card providers offer prepaid debit cards that can be accepted globally. Once you sign up with these services, you have to go through a verification process. Getting verified is not very difficult or lengthy especially if you have your smartphone nearby. They ask for certain documents to verify & check you are indeed a registered citizen with a valid residential address, contact number and a bank account or not. Once the documents are verified, you are a free to use your own money via their virtual debit cards.
How? Well you simply have to upload your funds via their allowed methods which can be local bank transfer, wire transfer, Credit/Debit card etc. and then wait for the money to get topped up in your card. After that you can use your virtual prepaid card on any website to purchase anything.
Now for the list of Virtual Prepaid Cards and Prepaid Debit Cards
A very good card for internet use from MCB. The MCB Lite is a prepaid Visa card, enabled for internet payments for local and international transactions. The card is free to signup and use; meaning there is no loading fee or monthly service fees attached to it. There is an annual fee of PKR 300 on all MCB Lite plans though which is a reasonable amount.
Speaking of plans, every new account/card starts at MCB Lite 0 which has an annual limit of PKR 200,000 (deposit & withdrawal). Once you visit a MCB Lite branch and submit some documents, you can upgrade to Lite 1 and Lite 2 for free. Full charges and limits are clearly defined however, they make no mention of the FX charges on foreign currency transactions. Thankfully, one doesnt need to be an MCB account holder to get this card. Though you can avail all the facilities of holding a bank account. From paying utility bills and mobile top ups to sending money to other account holders within MCB network and outside of it via IBFT.
Recently, MCB has enabled the Lite account to receive remittances directly into the mobile wallet. This makes it one of the best & most powerful prepaid cards in the market today. Some of these remittance providers include: Xpress Money, UAE Exchange, MoneyGram, Transfast, EZRemit, Ria,and ACE etc. Also, did we mention that this is a full fledged mobile wallet with its own app? Its not the best with mediocre reviews however, it beats not having any insight into account balance and relying only on text messages and ATM machines.
UBL Wiz Card
The first prepaid card to launch in Pakistan is the UBL Wiz card. While they have improved their card tremendously, they are surprisingly (or maybe not surprising?) well behind MCB which came in much later and continues to evolve.
The Wiz card is a bit expensive to maintain and use, not to mention that just having a Wiz card does not mean that you can use it online. No, you have to activate it for internet use (free) and then proceed for an internet session on it for PKR 100. Once the session duration expires, you cannot use it for internet. Best to use this card for one/off purchases and not for monthly subscriptions/recurring payments online.
They do offer a Wiz Internet card which is a prepaid virtual card solely for internet use that has its own limits, however it is nowhere as good as the MCB Lite (on paper atleast). Reloading the Wiz card is only allowed from the UBL branch network, UBL ATMs, UBL netbanking or an OMNI Dukaan. Unfortunately, you cannot load this online through your regular bank account outside of the UBL branch network. The UBL Wiz Internet card is a better option for those looking for a prepaid card to use exclusively online. The internet card doesnt require online activation and there are no session charges. However, there is an annual limit of PKR 100,000 for non-biometric verified cards and PKR 500,000 for verified cards.
US Unlocked is by far the most helpful service out there for international shoppers. They give you a virtual prepaid MasterCard that you can either use once or reload whenever you shop online. How does this work? Well they need some basic info from your end along with a US shipping address from one of their partnered services (names mentioned below). You then need to make a card payment which includes a one-time application fee of $15.
Once your credentials are approved it then takes 2-4 business days for you to get the virtual debit card working. You can load cards through a number of methods; depending on your location. The card allows recurring payments… so your monthly subscriptions for Netflix, Spotify or HuluPlus are all safe. The card can also be linked to PayPal to pay for purchases and here is how you can do it.
You can signup with US Unlocked via our special link
So, thats a list of Prepaid Debit cards available for online shopping. There is load fees and the bank’s FX rate when you top up/load your card (international cards only). However, once you top up, you don’t suffer losses due to FX fluctuations.
Is there a card we missed that you love to use online? Let us know in the comments below and we’ll check it out.